Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pray for Economics? An Introduction to Distributism


For the month of April, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray “For those who have responsibility in economic matters, that economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.”
The topic perked my ears, probably since my degree is in economics. So many questions popped up. Is the Pope trying to advocate for Socialism, as many outraged American Catholics seem to believe? How and why should our faith inform our economic philosophies? Is there such a thing as “Catholic” economics?

 


By Schile, H. (Henry), publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Over a century ago, a different pope grappled with economics. Pope Leo XIII released his encyclical Rerum Novarum on May 15, 1891. At that time, the world was adjusting to the changes of the industrial revolution, and many world leaders were taking a serious look at Karl Marx’s and Friedrick Engels’s The Communist Manifesto. The encyclical was a clear rejection of socialism on several grounds:
It states, “[10] Therefore, to deny private ownership of property is to steal from a man the fruits of his own labor.” And later, “[14] Therefore, the socialist idea that the State can interfere in the internal relations of the family is both wrong and unjust…” Concluding, “[15] It is plain, then, that the socialist plan is destructive and unnatural.”
So, no, the Catholic Church does not advocate socialism.
However, the Catholic Church also does not advocate “unfettered capitalism,” warning against the tendency for wealth to concentrate in too few hands. In response to the industrial revolution, Rerum Novarum notes that, “[3] a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.” The encyclical insists that, “[3] some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.”
But if the Church rejects Socialism and warns against unfettered Capitalism, what does Pope Francis want us to pray for?
Perhaps history can guide us. Back in the late 19th century, G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc popularized what’s known as “Distributism.” Many consider it a third economic system, an alternative to capitalism and socialism. In reality, it’s more of an economic philosophy.
At Distributism’s root is the principle of subsidiarity, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as, “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” In other words, the rights of small communities (families, neighborhoods) should not be violated by intervention from larger communities (state or federal government). 
The word Distributism may sound like a reference to re-distribution of wealth, but it is actual referencing the movement’s focus on a wide distribution of the means of capital—or as I like to look at it, a distribution of the profit incentive. Rather than communism (the concentration of wealth, power, and capital in the hands of the state) or capitalism (the concentration of wealth, power, and capital in the hands of oligarchs), Distributism advocates for a decentralized economy with more people owning their own property, tools, and intellectual capital.

As a concrete example, let’s look at the dairy industry. “Three acres and a cow” was once a popular Distributist slogan. The slogan hits close to home; I grew up on a dairy farm. The dairy industry is currently in dire straits with many small farmers unable to survive rock-bottom prices. The global economy, competition from large farms, and changing demand all play a role. A college friend of mine has taken a very Distributist approach to this hardship by creating a way for her family’s dairy farm to have a more direct relationship with its consumers. Folks can now better support my friend and her family by buying Garden Valley Farmstead’s exclusive mild cheddar cheese.  
Copyright 2018 Darci Daniels. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

While not necessarily known as Distributism, this shift towards localism has been gaining traction in recent years. Rather than “three acres and a cow,” modern Distributism looks more like famer’s markets, cooperatives, Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, more independent contractors...and of course I have to mention craft beer! Ultimately the movement has to happen at a grassroots level since in fact Distributism is more of a philosophy than an economic system.

My husband and our youngest son at our small business, Pigeon River Brewing Co. Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack. All rights reserved.

However, “those who have responsibility in economic matters” (ie: elected officials) could do more to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses, stop choosing winners and losers through biased incentives, and stop catering to big businesses and special interests. Robin Williams once said “Politicians should wear sponsor jackets like NASCAR drivers. Then we’d know who owns them.” Indeed, campaign reform may be the single biggest way to move towards the decentralization required for Distributism.
It’s hard to say what exactly Pope Francis had in mind with April’s prayer intention. Certainly he sees these issues from a global scale. As for me, I’ll be praying for a shift towards an economic vision built on the inherent dignity of families: Distributism.
…and then I’ll go out and support a local business!

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Strategy for Thriving at Home with Kids

Watching them play from the confines of my warm home. The grill and stroller look really neglected out there!

Here I am, almost halfway through my maternity leave, getting adjusted to the challenges of being home with the four kids five and under…
and then BAM Winter Storm Evelyn hits. In a matter of a couple days Queen Elsa's evil sister Evelyn dumped us with 30+” of snow, the highest producing Wisconsin snowstorm since 1888. (The competitive side of me needs to point out that the area between Marion and Tigerton was declared to have the MOST snowfall! That's right where we are!) Plow trucks got stuck, barn roofs caved in, taverns and churches closed down. In April. It was epic.
With the exception of Monday, Nate had been away every night this week, so we were already getting a little stir crazy. He was at beer school (yes, there is such a thing) when the storm started, and ended up stranded in Chippewa Falls. 




Our ominous text thread about the week
 


So it was just me and the kids. On a weekend after an already challenging week. Stuck as shut-ins. In April.

Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think. And because this is how my brain works, I came up with my strategy for how to stay sane happy while home with the kids.
1. Know my definition of “success”
In the past, when I’ve had seasons of trying my hand as a SAHM, I’ve mistakenly considered meticulous housekeeping to be my definition of success. Let me tell you, I’m a terrible housekeeper. I’m horribly unorganized, blind to dust, and just generally don’t give a crap. (confession: I don’t sort my laundry. I also don’t fold the kids’ laundry. Sue me.) Since a perfectly neat home just isn’t that important to me, the closer I got to my “ideal,” the more miserable I became.
This time around, a successful day is defined according to my priorities. For us, that looks something like a.) little to no screen time, b.) kids are served fruits and veggies (whether they eat them or shove them up their noses seems beside the point, doesn’t it?) c.) consistent discipline (no empty threats, no flying off the handle) d.) as much as possible staying “present.”
I’ve also let go of the idea of a successful day meaning that everyone was happy, harmonious and well-behaved. Unless I allow unlimited treats and follow them around to solve every problem, it’s just not gonna happen. And it shouldn't. Discipline is a part of every day, and while sometimes stressful, it’s my job.
2. Encourage independent play
Another confession: I hate playing with kids. I have played Barbies with Louisa exactly one time, and I wanted to pull my hair out. Luckily, because I’ve basically always been allergic to playing, my kids are pretty darn good at entertaining themselves. And we’ve discovered that if we keep making more of them, there are more combinations of playmates!

I do genuinely enjoy watching my kids play, especially when they seem to come up with crazy imaginative ideas out of the blue that don’t even have anything to do with the heaping pile of toys that have overtaken the second story of the house. Beach day, cardboard box rocket ships, gym class, international bank heist. Who knows what they’ll come up with next!
3. Do something productive or creative
Since naps are nonnegotiable for the three boys, I usually have a solid two hours in the afternoon when I can ignore the dirty dishes in the sink and sit down with my computer to do something that has nothing to do with kids or housekeeping. Lately I’ve been rotating between working on getting a CASA program established in our area, making profit and loss projections for Pigeon River, writing, and making Otto’s baby book (ok, so that one doesn’t qualify as not having to do with the kids, but I figured I should get around to it since he’s not even the baby anymore!).

Sure, I could use that time to clean or cook or binge watch Netflix or try to nap (ie: lay anxiously on the couch trying to will myself to sleep while hearing phantom cries), but focusing on productive efforts gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day that’s more long-lasting than the approximately five minutes I could take pride in a freshly swept floor.
4. Make weekends different
Usually that means getting the hell out of dodge for some much-needed socialization on Saturday. Sundays are spent at church and with family, avoiding the soul-sucking housework that I do all week.
That wasn’t an option this weekend, though, so I tried to think of a few novel activities that would make our snowmagedon experience more fun. We did shaving cream bath paint, had a living room picnic, baked cookies, sprayed colors at the snow, and organized a couple rooms in the house that I don’t get around to in the course of a normal week. We were still stuck at home, but it helped. At the end of the first day as I set my beer down to climb into a bubble bath, I thought to myself, This is so fun! We should have a bunch more kids! (My attitude went downhill in subsequent days, but we don’t have to dwell on that…!)
5. Avoid isolation
This is a biggie. I’m an introvert, but you’d have to be a bonafide hobbit to thrive under the conditions of most modern SAHMs. It’s just not natural. Throughout history women have raised their children in villages where they can send the herd of kids on a fishing expedition while they spend the day with other women weaving baskets, foraging berries, and picking lice out of each other’s hair. Isn’t that what we all want?
Our family is fortunate to have a strong village of extended family and friends who know they are always welcome to come visit (especially when they bring Culvers on the evening we couldn’t cook for lack of propane!) Once Winter Storm Evelyn unleashed her fury, even that was impossible, though. Instead, I clung to my IPhone as a tether to the outside world via social media and phone calls. Say what you want about the evils of social media, but I felt a sisterhood with those moms who shared ideas and erred grievances.
Here are a few pictures of our snowstorm fun. In April.
(Apparently I didn't take any pictures of Baby August this weekend...? He had a yucky boogery eye and in general bathing the baby should have been on our list of "activities." Sorry, little dude!)
Teaching the kids "Go Fish"

See that drift behind our van? That used to be the road!


My arms aren't long enough for this

Shaving cream mixed with watercolors. Fun!

Cookies!

Food coloring and water in spray bottles to color the snow. Lou rightfully pointed out that we shouldn't use yellow because it might look like pee!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The "No-Brakes" Dream


Have you ever dreamed that you’re driving a car and the brakes go out? Usually you wake up right before the crash. It’s a common anxiety dream signaling that you may be feeling like life is moving too fast or out of control. This little gem has visited me many times over the past few years through family and business changes. Even though I’ve felt calm on the surface, my subconscious was telling me otherwise. So it was no surprise that a couple nights after bringing our fourth baby home from the hospital I found myself dream riding in a vehicle with no brakes.

Only this time the dream was different.

It wasn’t me who was driving, but Nate. And I didn’t feel panic, but peace. I rode shotgun in his truck down a snow covered country lane. As we rounded the curves of the road, the truck’s brakes gave out. We braced ourselves as the truck sped down a hill with a sharp right turn at the base. Surely we were headed straight into the woods. But somehow the snow tracks guided the truck around the curve and we continued on.

My left hand grasped Nate’s hand and my right hand clutched my fresh c-section incision. If we crashed, the force of the seatbelt could split me right open. The road continued downhill; there was no slowing the truck. “Should I call someone? Your dad? An ambulance?”

“Hold off. I just need to find a soft place to land,” Nate said.

Somehow we navigated around a few more corners before the woods opened up into farm fields and the steep ditches gave way to gentle snow banks. With a nod, Nate steered the truck off the road and into a snow bank. (Remember, this was a dream, and for some reason this was the only way to stop the truck.)

In slow motion, a puff of snow burst into the air as the truck’s nose dove into the ditch and the back end swung into the air, easing us upside-down.

We hung from our seatbelts from the overturned cab. Nate was knocked out. I was unscathed. Still moving at half speed, I unbuckled myself, opened the door, and headed towards the road. I flagged down an elderly couple who agreed to give us a ride home.

The couple waited by the road while I went back for Nate. When I got back to the truck, he had already gotten himself out of the vehicle. “I think I broke something,” he said, rubbing his shoulder. “Are you hurt?”

“Not a scratch,” I said.

I put an arm around his waist and helped him hobble to the road.

Suddenly an alarm broadcasted through the sky and woke me. A crying newborn.

Like I said, it doesn’t surprise me that I should have the no-brakes dream after the past month. We spent the first weekend of the month nursing sick kids back to health, followed by an icy drive to the ER where Otto was diagnosed with pneumonia. Five hours later we headed back to the hospital for a c-section. I spent the next several days at the hospital bonding with August while cut off from the other kids who were banned from visiting due to the hospital’s flu season policy. When we finally got home, the older kids were needy, overtired, possibly still sickly, maybe a little bit spoiled, and overall just awful. It was a rough couple days.
 

Naturally, I felt a little out of control.

And yet, like in the dream, on top of all the panic, I felt peace. Maybe it’s because after four kids I finally realize that this too shall pass. Maybe it’s the distinct probability that this could be our last new baby so I should savor these moments. Maybe it’s because with four kids four and under, I find myself leaning more on Nate. Or maybe the pain killers were just working really well… ;) 

I’d like to think that after about four years of being reconverted to the faith, I’m finally practicing genuine trust. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

We’re not in control on this road that we call life. Some corners will be navigated smoothly. After the initial few days of adjustment, I'm happy to report that the kids are loving their new little brother, and I'm truly enjoying maternity leave.
Inevitably, though, crashes will come. I might think I have everything under control, but then all at once the oven's timer goes off while I'm trying to break up a fight between the two older ones. Meanwhile, the toddler poops his pants, and the baby wakes up from his nap. I'm bound to lose my sh*t at some point, but I’m asking myself: can I possibly hold onto this underlying peace through it all? Only time will tell!


And now, a few photos of our newest addition, August Oliver (isn't he precious!?):




 

Monday, January 22, 2018

6 "Hygge" Ways to Love Winter and Grow Spiritually




"6 hygge ways" by Kayla Knaack (CatholicMom.com)
Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack. All rights reserved.


As the second half of January sets in, winter always seems to lose its luster. Christmas decorations are taken down and the holiday cheer is packed to the attic with them. New toys are already missing pieces or needing replacement batteries. The beauty of December’s pure, glittering white landscape gives way to January’s murky road slush.


Not to mention this year I’m in the last couple of months of pregnancy, which always seem to take about 1000% longer than any other month of the year.


Living in Wisconsin, it’s easy to see why nearly a quarter of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depression which strikes in the colder months as less sunlight and changes in circadian rhythm trigger dips in serotonin, melatonin, and Vitamin D. Winter blues, cabin fever, hibernation season. Even if you don’t have full-blown SAD, most of us have experienced some part of the spectrum.


Vitamin D supplements, eating more fruits and veggies, and lightbox therapy have all proven effective ways to treat the physical effects of the season, but for the past couple of winters I’ve also been trying to lean in to the season by taking a cue from the Danes. At around 56 degrees latitude, Denmark experiences nearly as many hours of winter darkness as Juneau, Alaska. Winter temperatures average 28 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors Sweden, Finland, and Norway are consistently ranked in the top five happiest countries in the world (the United States typically ranks somewhere in the teens). If you ask the Danes, one of the keys to their happiness is their embrace of the winter season which can be summed up in one word: Hygge.


Pronounced “hoo-ga,” hygge is a Danish word roughly translated to well-being, but more expansively used to express an inner sense of warmth, coziness and merriment. It’s a chosen state of mind to cultivate contentment in the winter months. Those who master the concept enjoy roaring fires, candles, hearty meals, and the company of friends and family.



 
Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack. All rights reserved.

 

 Here are six ways to bring Hygge to your spiritual life this winter.


1. Take a candle-lit bubble bath … with prayer


Nothing takes the chill out of your bones like a hot bath. Soothing bubbles and scented candles will turn your nightly routine into a spa-like experience. Add to that a meditative prayer like the Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and you’re sure to find yourself re-centered in no time. Prayer is physically, mentally, and spiritually rewarding. Check out the Rosary Foundation to learn about the rosary’s effects on blood pressure, migraines, serotonin, immunity, sleep, and more. (If you’re a relative beginner like me, check out scriptural rosaries on Youtube which give a few verses of scripture before each prayer to keep your mind focused on Jesus.)


2. Curl up by a roaring fire with a good book … better yet, make it the Good Book


Another hyggeligt (the adjective form of hygge) way to pass a quiet winter night at home is to grab a warm knit blanket and plop yourself into an inviting chair near a fireplace. Feel the warmth radiate as you delve into a book illuminated by the fire-lit glow. Make that the book the Bible, and that warmth and illumination will permeate your soul.


Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack. All rights reserved.


3. Invite friends over for a weeknight dinner party


The best way to beat cabin fever is to socialize. Always keep a few friends who don’t expect gourmet meals or a spotless home, but can just drop by on a weeknight to break up the monotony. A big pot of soup, a hearty casserole, craft beer, and dessert … this is no time to be scrupulous about your New Year’s resolution! Bonus points: invite a family from your parish that you’d like to get to know better, newbies in your community, or your parish priest. (And if you’d rather not host, most restaurants could use the extra business this time of year!)


4. Host a freezer meal party


Are you sensing a theme here? Food and friends seem to be the key components to getting through the winter in Danish style … add in music and mulled wine, and it’s a party! With a baby coming in March, I’m definitely going to make some time this February to stock my freezer. Lasagna, sloppy joes, soup, and enchiladas all freeze well. In the coming months, the freezer meals can also be used to reach out to those in your parish who might be grieving, sick, or injured.


5. Visit the elderly


Winter can be especially hard on the elderly and shut-ins. They experience the same Vitamin-D drop and serotonin drop as the rest of us, compounded by the depressing effects of social isolation. As charitable Christians, we should always strive to comfort the lonely. Why not bring the hygge to them? Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s (or grandfather’s, or great-aunt’s, or other miscellaneous elderly acquaintance’s) house we go! Bring a deck of cards, your Bible, or just plan to talk. Their spirits are also brightened with the presence of children, who can in turn benefit from the company of the older generation.


6. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway or sidewalk


Hygge doesn’t always mean snuggling under a blanket in your warm house. In fact, one of the most important elements of embracing the winter months is to go outside and face the elements. While it’s admittedly hard to absorb much Vitamin D when only your face is exposed to the sunlight, the psychological benefits of being outdoors extend beyond the vitamin. In fact, according to a series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, being outside makes people feel more alive. Just 20 minutes in nature can significantly boost vitality levels. Add to that the endorphin surge of exercise and the spiritual boost of loving one’s neighbor, and shoveling a neighbor’s driveway seems more like a favor to the person shoveling than to the neighbor. (Ok, I live out in the country where neighbors plow rather than shovel driveways. Plus I’m seven months pregnant. So I’ll personally be passing on this one … making snow angels might be more in line with my activity level!)


Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack. All rights reserved.


 As the years go by, I seem to be learning more and more how to embrace the joys of each season. What are your tips for getting through winter?



Copyright 2018 Kayla Knaack

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Feast of the Holy Innocents


“Massacre of the Innocents” by Peter Paul Rubens – Ken Thompson the Collector: The Thompson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Public Domain, Link


December 28 marks the Feast of the Holy Innocents, or “Childermas.” The feast commemorates infant boys in the Bethlehem area who were massacred by order of King Herod after he heard of Christ’s birth. Herod was so attached to his own power and glory that he was willing to sacrifice innocent children to preserve it. They are considered the first Christian martyrs.


For a haunting reflection on the feast, listen to “Coventry Carol,” an English Christmas carol traced back to the sixteenth century as part of a mystery play called “The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.” In the song, mothers sing a sorrowful lullaby to their lost babies.




What a jolt! From celebrating a newborn baby to mourning the loss of others.


Unfortunately, evil persists. Our society continues to cast aside innocent children in selfish pursuits, whether it be through abortion, the marginalization of impoverished children, or the maltreatment of foster children.


Too often, our children are caught in the crosshairs of power-seeking adults.


Even in our own homes, so quickly we go from delighting in the Christmas-morning faces of our children to counting the days until school is back in session. From praising their Nativity pageant performance to excusing them from next week’s Mass. From spoiling them with treats and presents to New Year’s resolutions to tighten belts.


Too often, our children are like presents cast aside.

As we turn our attention towards the New Year, let us heed the message of the Feast of Holy Innocents and not let children become the victims of our selfish whims. Instead of focusing resolutions on climbing the ladder, let us instead stoop down to embrace the least among us. As their presents lose appeal, let us gift them with our presence and His presence.


We are in the final steps of creating a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program for Shawano and Waupaca Counties. As we look to the New Year, I hope you will consider supporting the program to help our area foster children.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Extending the Joy of the Season with the 12 Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! We had a great weekend that seemed to have just the right balance of quiet peace and noisy, ear-splitting, joyful chaos (after all, anyone who has been through labor knows that the First Noel would've anything but a Silent Night...) 




After taking it easy during Advent, I'm ready to extend the Christmas celebration to the real twelve days of Christmas-the days between Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men visited Jesus. I wanted to do something to extend the fun without spending a lot of time, effort, or money (a common theme in these parts...).


I found a couple of good websites for inspiration. This one explains the history behind the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song (hint: the random "true-love" gifts all have hidden meanings) and gives some great family activity ideas to celebrate the various feast days throughout the twelve days. This one also gives great Christian historical basis for the twelve days. They got my wheels turning to come up with a doable, last-minute plan for our family that would play on the gift that the kids decided Jesus would want most: love.


Each day the kids will open an envelope which will include a Hershey's kiss to symbolize Jesus's love for them along with instructions for a simple activity aimed at showing love to Jesus and/or celebrating a feast day. Here's what I came up with:


125-DecChristmasGo to Mass, celebrate with family, sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus
226-DecFeast of St. Stephan the martyr(traditionally give to the poor) read Acts 6 & 7, listen to Good King Wenceslaus, letter  to Agnes (our sponsored child)
327-DecFeast of St. John (traditionally "day of reconciliation") write Christmas thank-you notes
428-DecFeast of the Holy Innocentsread Matthew 2:16-18, collect toys to donate to children
529-Dec Blow bubbles to Jesus
630-Dec Go to Mass, take a gift suggestion from the parish Christmas tree
731-DecFeast of the Holy FamilyDo something special as a family, later NYE Party
81-JanSomemnity of MarySay the Magnificat or Rosary (6:30 Rosary @Marion?)
92-Jan Bake star-shaped rice krispies, talk about the Wise Men
103-JanFeast of the Holy Name of Jesus"Names of Jesus" coloring page
114-JanFeast of Elizabeth Ann SetonGo to Library, read a Christmas book (St. Elizabeth was a teacher)
125-Jan Clean house in preparation for the Epiphany, Stargaze
 6-JanEpiphanyGo to Mass, "Merry Christmas St. Mary" party, chalk doors, bless house


I'm hoping that the extended celebration helps draw out the joy of the season and remind us that Emmanuel-God with us-is something to celebrate every day.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Building Christmas Traditions

In the beginning of our marriage, Christmas Eve and Day meant a lot of driving around to various family functions, stuffing our faces with rich food, and struggling to accommodate baby nap schedules. Due to some shifting of holiday schedules and our children getting a little older, the past couple years have been much different. Suddenly our Christmas Eve and Day plans are relatively open, and given that our children are now reaching long-term-memory ages, I’ve been thinking about trying to institute some holiday traditions for the five (almost six) of us.

We have a few traditions already which came about organically: 1.) We stuff stockings for The Feast of St. Nick on December 6th, 2.) We light Advent candles on Sundays, 3.) We tell the truth about Santa, 4.) On Christmas morning, the kids each get three gifts each to mirror the three gifts that the Wise Men gave Jesus, and 5.) We attend mass Christmas Eve and/or Day.  This year we also did Advent calendars for the first time, and thanks to the inclusion of chocolate, the kids made sure we didn’t forget!
This year, a combination of procrastination and intentional minimalism has lead to a much simpler Advent season. I didn't send out cards, step foot in a mall, or make any cookies or candy.
I was going to use this for a Christmas card. Then I decided everyone on my mailing list can just view them on Facebook!
Our massive Christmas tree stands in front of me completely unadorned. At this point, I think we might as well embrace the old tradition of not lighting the tree until Christmas Eve.

Also, our Nativity is still packed away in the attic…I’m going to go ahead and say that was intentional as well…I’ll get it out for the Christmas Season rather than the Advent Season.

For the past three years, I’ve surveyed Louisa about how Jesus would want to celebrate his birthday, and it has been interesting to see her answers mature. When she was two, it was a “Cars Party." When she was three, it was a “Disciple Party.” This year, “He just wants love.” A few days after asking her this, I followed up. “How do you think we can give Jesus love for His birthday?” She suggested we find a way to throw it up to Heaven for Him. I thought about releasing some balloons, but the farmgirl in me doesn’t want to litter our neighboring fields, so I think we may try to blow some love-bubbles up to Heaven.

(Oh, and this reminds me that I need to ask Vic how he thinks Jesus would like to celebrate His birthday!)

Obviously, our young family’s traditions are all a work-in-progress. I’d still like to add something special for Christmas Day itself, so I'm reaching out to you for ideas. What traditions does your family enjoy? Are you doing anything new this year?